The Wild Area and online options become accessible early on in Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield. If you don’t like spoiling new 8th generation Pokemon or like to catch as many Pokemon on your own before trading, I recommend getting all of your badges in the main game to fully enjoy everything the online multiplayer feature has to offer. You must have all 7 Gym Badges (last one is the Dragon Badge) in order to find Gigantamax Pokemon in the Wild Area. I go into more details and which select few Pokemon have Gigantamax forms here. See below for more information about playing with other players and ongoing official competitions by Nintendo for rewards and bragging rights!
Link Battles and Link Codes
Link Battles are between you and other players online. If you only want to play with your friends specifically, you can set up a Link Code. A Link Code is a 4-digit password that your friends will have to input in order to join. This is set up this way because everything you do is broadcast live via Stamps (more on that later). Link Battles allow you to choose Single Battle for one-on-one battling and Double Battle where two players can send out 2 Pokemon at one time. Finally, there’s Multi Battle which is similar to a Double Battle but four players are involved and get to control one Pokemon each.
Link Trades and Surprise Trades
Link Trades are the way to go if you have a certain Pokemon in mind that you want to trade with a friend. You can also connect with someone randomly online and both come to an agreement for a trade. If there’s a Pokemon you know you don’t need anymore, Surprise Trades can be really fun! Select the Pokemon that you want traded and go about your business in-game until your Y-Comm alerts you that they found you someone and the trade is complete. As adorable as Skwovet is (the pudgy-cheeked squirrel), you’ll probably come across it often in Surprise Trades as it is the new Ratata. Other times you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what players send out there!
The Victory Station
Go to your menu and click on VS (Victory Station) which displays stats such as whether Shield players or Sword players are winning in categories like “Hatched the most eggs” and “Cooked the most while camping” by comparing numbers with 100 players online. From there, you can select either Battle Stadium for various online competition options or Live Competition to host or participate in battles via LAN.
- Casual Battles: Anything goes in single and double battles and it’s all just for good fun or to just test your skills as a Trainer.
- Ranked Battles: Compete for the highest rank with other players around the world. You’ll be matched up with others in your tier so that the battles are fair. At the end of each season you’ll get in-game rewards based on your position in the Leaderboards.
- Online Competitions: These are limited live and official ongoing competitions. Check out the announcement here for details on the very first competition, Galar Beginnings. You’ll want to sign up now for the period between December 6th-8th, 2019. All players will receive a Participation Gift after completing at least one battle.
- Rental Teams: This new feature allows you to share your Battle Team for the public to use, or “borrow” someone else’s to play around with in battles.
Nintendo just announced that Ranked Battle Season 1 is now under way until the end of December 2019. During this time, the rules listed will remain the same with restrictions to Pokemon that you can use. Another season will be starting on January 1st, 2020. For this time around, you’ll be entering in Double Battles, using only 4 Pokemon from your team, and all of your Pokemon will be at Lv. 50. At the end of the season, if you’ve competed in at least one match, you can get the following rewards from the Mystery Gift menu.
- Master Ball Tier: 3 Gold Bottle Caps and 600 Battle Points.
- Ultra Ball Tier: 1 Gold Bottle Cap and 300 Battle Points.
- Great Ball Tier: 3 Bottle Caps, 1 Ability Capsule, 1 Jolly Mint, 1 Timid Mint, and 100 Battles Points.
- Poke Ball Tier & Beginner Tier: 1 Ability Capsule, 1 Jolly Mint, 1 Timid Mint, and 50 Battle Points.
Battle Points, or BP, can be spent by talking to an NPC in the Pokemon Center in Hammerlocke in exchange for special items.
Y-Comm and Searching Stamps
Going to your Y-Comm and changing your Local Communication to Internet will allow you to see what everyone online is currently up to by displaying Stamps at all times on the bottom left of your screen. This includes Link Trades, Surprise Trades, Link Battles, and Max Raid Battles. In your Y-Comm menu, it is possible to filter your Stamps if you are looking for specific battles to join or only want to see the Stamps of your friends. I usually set mine to Max Raid Battles and pay attention to the specific red ones as they are the “incredibly/massively strong Pokemon” ones. If someone else found a rare Gigantamax Pokemon, you can join in with a total of 4 players. You’ll want to act fast as this can fill up quickly.
If you find your own Gigantamax Pokemon, I recommend Inviting Others as it’s a very tough battle to fight alone or the three other NPCs given at random can be pretty terrible. You’ll come across a few Magikarp that will often faint and then come back after a few turns at full health, only to faint again.
In every Max Raid Battle, any Pokemon can faint up to 4 times before you lose and get kicked out of the den. You also lose if you go over 10 total turns. Therefore, either set up a Link Code for your friends, or wait the full 3 minutes to give players the chance to join. It is possible to have a mixture of players and NPCs if you can’t fill out all four slots.
Playing with Others Keeps Things Interesting for a Long Time to Come
Even if you have finished the main game of Pokemon Sword and Shield, there are still competitions to enter for rewards and your Pokemon to show-off. If you want to fill out your Pokedex, you’ll need to spend some time in the Wild Area, and to trade for version exclusive Pokemon. Hosting or joining others in Max Raid Battles and Dynamaxing Pokemon is also another fun way to share in the experience and to get the most out of your game.
Of course to do all that you’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online account. You can find the pricing plans here, however, I recommend getting an Amazon Prime account now as you get Twitch Prime and 12 months of Nintendo Switch Online at no extra cost. Find out more about that amazing limited time offer here.